Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Best of India

So it’s been awhile, but we’re trying to catch up, so here’s the Best of India!


Flavours – Kodaikanal

It was northern food, but made in the south. Our best meal has to go to Flavours, which is a tandoori chicken restaurant in Kodaikanal India. Tandoor Chicken BBQed in a massive clay pot is a staple, but these guys manage to get just the right abmount of char on the outside so its crispy, but still juicy in the middle. Combine this was the succulent gravies of the north including a wonderful mushroom masala and you have our favorite meal of India.


Varanasi to Agra

This was by far the worst travel day. Our train was supposed to leave at 6pm, but was five hours late to start. It kept being delayed by two or three hours until we eventually left at 5am the next day. It was absolutely freezing cold and there was little food around. Mice were running all over the train station and Leslie got peed on by a monkey. Yes, you read that right. Eventually, we made it onto the train and the train itself was pretty nice, but the delay made it a terrible travel day.


The Taj Mahal

Many people think it was built as a temple, but the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum that the Shah Jahan built for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It’s the world’s biggest monument dedicated to love. It towers above the city, which seems to exist only to funnel tourists to the world landmark. The stonework is impressive and the way the light reflects off the mausoleum is beautiful, but the whole thing is emphasized by the immaculate grounds surrounding the Taj. To top it off, there are rats throughout the whole city, which means food for birds of prey. Thirty or so hawks patrol the skies above the Taj, looking for food below making the entire experience surreal, unique and incredibly Indian.



The Brits might claim to like tea the best, but the Indians are going to give them a run for their money. Little stalls stand on the side of the street where a tea-maker keeps milk and some sort of condensed tea warm. For about twenty cents you can buy a fresh made cup of sugary tea that smells wonderful as they pour it back and forth between two cups to mix it in front of you. Everyone’s welcome as the community gathers for the warm brew. It’s always welcome after six hours on a bus, but its especially nice on cold days. Bryan’s never been a big tea drinker, but it doesn’t take long for the Indian tea stall to convince you to rethink that idea.


The Kids

Kids throughout India loved having their pictures taken. They’d come running up to us with huge, toothy grins when they saw a camera yelling, “Photo! Photo! Photo!” and would love having their picture taken.


The Kids

Then they would pose for the picture and stare at us stonefaced like people from the late 1880s. Once we took the picture the smiles would return as they looked at themselves in the photo.


Varanasi, India

It was a big city, and absolutely freezing, but the small winding roads through the ancient city of Varanasi were some of the most fun we’ve had getting lost in a city. True, there were cowpies (and cows) everywhere, we had to keep a wide distance from dogs that potentially had rabies and the touts were some of the most aggressive we’ve seen, but it was still an intoxicating city. Hindus who want to be released from the cycle of reincarnation will travel to Varanasi to die and be cremated at the holy Ganges river. Combine this with decent hostels, good prices and we have a city that sets itself apart from everywhere else in the world.

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